The Loud Silence of Francine Green
By Karen Cushman
(Clarion Books, Hardcover, 9780618504558, 240pp.)
Publication Date: August 2006
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Francine Green doesn’t speak up much, and who can blame her? Her parents aren’t interested in her opinions, the nuns at school punish girls who ask too many questions, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities is blacklisting people who express unpopular ideas. There’s safety in silence. Francine would rather lose herself in a book, or in daydreams about her favorite Hollywood stars, than risk attracting attention or getting in trouble.
But when outspoken, passionate Sophie Bowman transfers into Francine’s class at All Saints School for Girls, Francine finds herself thinking about things that never concerned her beforefree speech, the atom bomb, the existence of God, the way people treat each other. Eventually, Francine discovers that she not only has something to say, she is absolutely determined to say it.
Once again, Karen Cushman follows a young woman’s progress toward her true self, this time exploring the nature of friendship and the experience of growing up Catholic in an era that is both fascinating and relevant to today’s young people. Author’s note.
Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois and lives now on Vashon Island west of Seattle, Washington. She received an M.A. in human behavior and one in museum studies. Ms. Cushman has had a lifelong interest in history. She says, "I grew tired of hearing about kings, princes, generals, presidents. I wanted to know what ordinary life was like for ordinary young people in other times." Research into medieval English history and culture led to the writing of her first two novels, the Newbery Honor book CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY and the Newbery Medal-winner THE MIDWIFE'S APPRENTICE. She is also the author of MATILDA BONE, THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE and, most recently, RODZINA.
"A rich, satisfing story about early adolescence." (Starred Review) Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"Cushman creates another introspective female character who is planted firmly in her time and who grows in courage [and] self-awareness." School Library Journal, Starred
"The dialogue is sharp...[in] this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage." (Starred Review) Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"A compelling look at what can happen when one girl finds the courage to speak out for what she believes." Bookpage
"Serious issues are balanced by Francine's self-deprecating sense of humor...to produce a wonderful snapshot of the times." VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
"Cushman has the gift of making the past immediate...this time the connections to the present seem particularly apropos." Horn Book
"Francine is an engaging and convincing character." Horn Book Guide, Pointer